The crowd was already thick and people were stacked all over Pershing Square, making it impossible to reach the speakers' stage there. We lined up on facing Hill Street in the understanding that was the direction the march would take to the Civic Center just over one mile away. And that's where we stayed for the next 90 minutes, as the crowd continued to grow.
|Scenes from 6th Street within the crowd. Observers hung from windows and waved encouragement. A rubber ball representing the world was propelled through the crowd from one participant to another. Signs and pink "pussyhats" were everywhere.|
The organizers expected 70,000 people but unofficial estimates of the number of participants have ranged dramatically from 350,000 to 750,000. We heard snippets of speeches in the distance but the only thing that came through clearly was the Star Spangled Banner. The crowd sang along and chants broke out with regularity: "this is what democracy looks like"; "say it loud and say it clear, immigrants are welcome here"; and "love trumps hate," to name but a few. As time went on, spontaneous chants of "march, march, march" sprang up but, with no forward movement, the crowd began moving out in all directions around 10:30am. As soon as we moved into adjoining streets, the reason for the quagmire became abundantly clear: all the streets between Pershing Square and Civic Center were jammed solid with people, making movement along one designated route impossible.
|The view as we walked westward and looked up Grand Avenue in the direction of the Civic Center|
My friends and I turned and walked south before heading east to Spring Street, then north to 1st Street and the Civic Center. People carrying signs were everywhere, representing the diverse causes that drew them to the march. Some, like mine, contained a laundry list of concerns with the initiatives endorsed by the new government administration, while others were more specific.
|These were a few of my favorite signs but there were many great ones, like "Let's talk about the elephant in the womb" and "Election Day 2016: the day sexual assault became acceptable" and "When should I start my Russian language lessons?"|
Although concerns varied from person-to-person, the crowd was united in opposition to the policies expressed by the new administration and its representatives. Individuals will undoubtedly coalesce around the issues most important to them but I anticipate that they'll remain supportive of most, if not all, of the causes supported by their fellow marchers. I haven't actively participated in a political rally before but, if this experience is indicative, I can't speak more highly of the process. There were no arrests. There was no violence. Despite the density of the crowd, there was no pushing or shoving, no unkind words. There were chants but no screaming - I never even heard a baby cry and there were lots of babies. We were an assembly of multiple generations - parents, grandparents, and children. We were an assembly of multiple faiths, ethnicities and races. Things didn't go exactly as planned. They went better than could have been planned. It was a beautiful day - and a perfect antidote for the dismay and dread I felt after the dystopian inaugural address.
This compilation of photos is my Wednesday Vignette, a stretch of the concept perhaps, as well as a deviation from my usual focus on gardens and gardening. For more Wednesday Vignettes, please visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.
P.S. For the record, there are gardens in downtown Los Angeles. Here's one:
|Spring Street Community Garden|
All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party